Tower Hamlets Council is migrating its workforce to a more flexible working environment, enabling over 4,000 personnel to work from any location via any computing device.

The move to a Citrix desktop virtualisation platform is part of the council's "Smarter Working" initiative to help staff log-on from anywhere, thereby reducing the need for office space and cutting overhead costs, but maintaining service levels.

An initial rollout of Citrix XenDesktop functionality to over 4,000 users has been completed, with the full rollout of desktop applications to be completed by December 2012. The migration will enable the council to move out of its current residence Anchorage House, saving over £7 million annually.

Citrix XenDesktop 5.5 will provide Microsoft Windows 7 desktop working on-demand on any device, including personal laptops, Apple iPads and Android-based tablets.

As part of the migration the council expects to see a carbon footprint reduction of over 300 tons per annum via the introduction of desktop and server virtualisation across Cisco Unified Computing System hardware, with Citrix XenServer running on top of it.

Citrix NetScaler 7500 will be used to load balance Microsoft Exchange at the council and potentially its SharePoint and Lync systems in the future.

“The Citrix solution will not only allow us to provide a more flexible and secure working environment for our staff, but also lead to business savings, having a direct impact on productivity levels and our bottom line," said Paul Ingram at Tower Hamlets Council.

On savings, Ingram said: "Being able to save over £7 million a year on office costs will mean that ROI on our investment in desktop virtualisation will be less than two years.”

In an alternative desktop virtualisation move Hillingdon Council last year became the first local authority in the UK to move to Google Apps. It expected the move would save it £2.98 million in desktop PC maintenance costs over four years.